Area Guides

Cold Water Therapy: Should You Take the Plunge?

Hydrotherapy or the therapeutic use of water dates back to the Ancient Greeks; Hippocrates, often considered the father of hydrotherapy, was documented prescribing bathing in spring water as a remedy for certain illnesses.

Today, we have influencers plunging into ice baths and outdoor enthusiasts professing the mind and body benefits of wild swimming and chilly dips, and at our Hampshire hotel we’ve been inviting you to enjoy hydrotherapy experience breaks for years… But the new kid on the block is cold water therapy – a trend that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere – what does it actually mean, is it good for you and should you be taking the plunge?

What IS cold water therapy?

Essentially, cold water therapy means immersing the body in cold water that’s less than 15-degrees Celsius, usually for only a few minutes. It could be a cold shower, a lake dip or an ice bath.

Is cold water therapy good for my health?

Physical health benefits associated with cold water therapy are improved circulation, reduced inflammation and muscle soreness; improved energy and immune function, however, a lack of scientific evidence means these benefits can’t be proven outright, with much of the data collected usually stemming from small studies. Although, reports of general wellbeing and improved health after cold water exposure are fairly consistent which is hard to ignore.

When it comes to the mental health benefits, the experts aren’t quite sure what it is about the cold water or exactly which part of the body it’s associated with, but many who swear by cold water talk about a ‘reset button’ for the mind, and alleviation of symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

Research has suggested that the brain chemicals released during cold water therapy are mood enhancing endorphins and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which supports the idea that it works to reset mood.

Go gently and stay safe in cold water

If you’re new to cold water therapy, it can be hard to know where to begin. The idea of cold-water immersion is that it causes stress to the body, and the more we experience cold water, the more tolerant we become, and it’s this which brings with it the health benefits such as boosting our immune system, but it’s important to note that with such benefits there are risks to cold water therapy too. Jumping straight in can cause cold water shock, it can trigger underlying heart rhythm disorders and being immersed in cold water can cause hypothermia.

It takes time for your body to adapt and so, there is no need to hop straight into an ice bath. Be kind to yourself, start gently by trying cold showers at home, slowly reducing the temperature and the time spent in the cold water, begin your cold-water journey in the summer months, join a group or friends for shallow dips in the sea or a nearby lake.

Ensure you have sufficient warm layers to put on after. Remove all wet clothes and have some sweet tea or hot chocolate at the ready.

Test the waters at SenSpa

At our New Forest hotel our award-winning spa SenSpa focuses on the health of the mind, body and soul, with a state-of-the-art Hydrotherapy Suite so you can move from hot to cold during your own water therapy session.

Enjoy contrasting Experience Showers, inviting you to step into a cold ‘sea storm’ and then into warming ‘tropical rainfall,’ invigorating the senses with essential oils and contrasting temperatures.

An overhead cold bucket awaits, for an intense cold shower, or choose crushed ice, to apply as you wish to target specific areas or sore muscles.

Make it a holistic experience

The Ultimate Sen Sleep Spa Break can be that reset you’re looking for. Enjoy access to our exclusive spa facilities, promoting deeper, longer-lasting sleep. Step into the hydrotherapy pool to restore balance and release muscle tension, into the ice room or experience showers to boost endorphins and reinvigorate the body, then, enjoy a soothing Ayurvedic Head Massage to clear the mind and relieve stress, all before dining in one of our three hotel restaurants.

Don’t underestimate the rejuvenating power of a Spa Break in the heart of our ancient woodland, not only an opportunity to test how your body reacts to cold water therapy whilst having the comfort of soothing warm water and thermal rooms nearby, but an immersive experience that allows you to welcome the benefits of other therapies too, from skin and body treatments and specialist massage to the power of forest bathing and reconnection to nature. Our New Forest hotel will be your gateway.